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4/28/2015GStone/MATC Geological Society of America Joint Annual Meeting/October 7, 2008/Houston INTELLECTUAL ATROPHY THEORY APPLIED TO THE GLOBAL WARMING.

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Presentation on theme: "4/28/2015GStone/MATC Geological Society of America Joint Annual Meeting/October 7, 2008/Houston INTELLECTUAL ATROPHY THEORY APPLIED TO THE GLOBAL WARMING."— Presentation transcript:

1 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Geological Society of America Joint Annual Meeting/October 7, 2008/Houston INTELLECTUAL ATROPHY THEORY APPLIED TO THE GLOBAL WARMING PSEUDOCONTROVERSY: A CASE STUDY OF SCIENTIFIC STAGNATION presented by George T. Stone Milwaukee Area Technical College

2 4/28/2015GStone/MATC “The greatest tradition is change.” “The greatest tradition is change.” --Frank Lloyd Wright

3 4/28/2015GStone/MATC “The very essence of science is change.”

4 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Science always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence “Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence.” -- James Randi Founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation

5 Responsible skeptic v. ostensible skeptic As predators keep prey alert and adaptable, so skeptics keep scientists honest. Skeptics play an essential role in the process of science. Responsible skeptics, that is. A responsible skeptic plays by the rules of science, ever striving for objectivity and rigor. Alas, the ostensible skeptic interprets these rules loosely and may deem a foul ball fair, straying into the field of dreams and pseudoscience. 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

6 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Atrophy (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary) Etymology atrophia Late Latin atrophia atrophos from Greek atrophos: ill fed atrephein from a- + trephein: to nourish

7 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Intellectual atrophy (W. T. Wu/Nanjing University letters, 1936) Intellectual atrophy describes an immutable and closed mindset which denies itself the nourishment of new knowledge in order to preserve a revered or cherished paradigm.

8 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Conceptions of an orderly world “Ideas without precedent are generally looked upon with disfavor and men are shocked if their conceptions of an orderly world are challenged.” -- J. Harlen Bretz

9 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Scientific stagnation Scientific stagnation develops when the nourishing oxygen of discovery in an open intellectual system is excluded, resulting in conceptual stasis.

10 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Confirmation bias (from Wikipedia/the free encyclopedia) Confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs. Confirmation bias is mother’s milk to ostensible skeptics and is symptomatic of scientific stagnation.

11 History of science The history of science is replete with examples of scientific stagnation when new evidence and new ideas threatened to perturb and oxygenate the comfortable quietude of long-held concepts. 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

12 4/28/2015GStone/MATC Perturbers of scientific stagnation James Hansen F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina Harry Hess Guy Callendar J. Harlan Bretz Alfred Wegener Albert Einstein Svante Arrhenius Charles Darwin Louis Agassiz James Hutton Galileo Galilei

13 4/28/2015GStone/MATC History of global-warming science 1827: Joseph Fourier explains “greenhouse effect” : John Tyndall publishes experimental data documenting infrared absorption by H 2 O and CO :Svante Arrhenius calculates that doubling C0 2 in the atmosphere would raise Earth’s surface temperature 5 to 6 o C 1938:Guy Callendar concluded that CO 2 from the combustion of fossil fuels is changing Earth’s climate 1988:James Hansen testifies before Congress; presents GISS projections of global warming

14 The greenhouse effect and global warming Now, the discoverers and documenters of the greenhouse effect and global warming clearly perturbed the resource- friendly paradigm of planetary immunity to human activity. And ostensible skeptics and true believers charged onto the playing field. 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

15 Example of non-science When the state of a system is a function of multiple independent variables, it is naïve at best and dishonest at worst to attribute cause and effect to only two variables while ignoring the relevant impact of a third (or more). For example: concluding that the thermal properties of CO 2 were inoperative simply because the dimming impact of aerosols temporarily masked the greenhouse effect. 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

16 Another example of non-science If a well-defined, longer-term trend (say, multi-decadal) exhibits short-term fluctuations (say multi-annual), it would be unjustified – indeed, disingenuous – to conclude on the basis of a fluctuation that the long- term trend did not continue or was invalid. pseudocontroversy. These examples are not hypothetical; they represent two of many ploys that have been used in the guise of science by ostensible skeptics to create the perception of controversy. Such fallacies do not constitute science and contrive only pseudocontroversy. 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

17 Science, credibility, and public policy The effectiveness of science in informing public policy derives from its credibility -- and also, unfortunately, from its political convenience. We can control credibility; it derives from integrity. And integrity is the duty of science, as it is for all scholarship. As scientists, it is our duty to demand integrity and rigor in our research and in our education of students and the public at large. Pseudoscience and rigorless disinformation should not be granted legitimacy-by-association in a forum of scientific research or on the stage of scholarship. 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

18 4/28/2015GStone/MATC4/28/2015GStone/MATC Understanding global warming (James E. Hansen, Director/NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) “Understanding the nature and causes of climate change is essential to crafting solutions to our current crisis.” -- Tipping Point: Perspective of a Climatologist (2008–2009 State of the Wild)

19 4/28/2015GStone/MATC CO2 rises exceed worst-case scenarios (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences/May 22, 2007)   The world's recent carbon dioxide emissions are growing more rapidly than even the worst-case climate scenario used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)   C0 2 emissions from fossil fuels increasing at 3 times the rate of the 1990’s CDIAC & EIA data compared to IPCC

20 4/28/2015GStone/MATC CO 2 emissions accelerate in 2007 (Global Carbon Project/September 25, 2008) ppm/yr) atmospheric CO 2 increase (ppm/yr)

21 4/28/2015GStone/MATC CO 2 emissions accelerate in 2007 (Global Carbon Project/September 25, 2008)   the growth rate of emissions continued to accelerate, through 2007, bringing atmospheric CO 2 to 383 ppm   anthropogenic CO 2 emissions have been growing four times faster since 2000  This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO 2 emissions and atmospheric accumulation are unprecedented and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change  "This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO 2 emissions and atmospheric accumulation are unprecedented and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change.” -- Pep Canadell, Executive Director Global Carbon Project

22 4/28/2015GStone/MATC4/28/2015GStone/MATC 2007 land temperature warmest on record! (National Climatic Data Center/January 15, 2008) For 2007:  warmest on record  the global land surface temperature ranked warmest on record  second warmest on record  the Northern hemisphere land and land + ocean surface temperature ranked second warmest on record  fifth warmest on record  the combined global land + ocean surface temperature ranked fifth warmest on record

23 The greatest challenge of human history We now face what may well be the most daunting challenge in human history: anthropogenic greenhouse warming. The magnitude and immediacy of this challenge is staggering and not yet fully grasped by many. 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

24 4/28/2015GStone/MATC “We have a very brief window of opportunity” (James E. Hansen, Director/NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) “We have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change... no longer than a decade at the most.“ "we will be producing a different planet" If the world continues with "business as usual," temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 o Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 o F) and "we will be producing a different planet"

25 Einstein’s wisdom Einstein’s wisdom (Sandra Postel/October 5, 2008) “You can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created the problem.” -- Albert Einstein 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

26 A call to duty! the greatest challenge of human history As geoscientists -- with expertise in climate change and energy resources -- it is our professional duty to demonstrate leadership in preparing policy makers and the public to deal with the greatest challenge of human history! 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

27 We can do it! Si se puede! 4/28/2015GStone/MATC

28 4/28/2015GStone/MATC (AP photo courtesy of Dan Crosbie/Canadian Ice Service) Thanks for your attention!!


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